At the 2018 All-Star break, things were much different for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The team still had Lebron James, had just pulled off one of the more stunning trade deadline overhauls in NBA History, had and were sitting at 34-22, firmly in the hunt for the Eastern Conference. There was still hope in Cleveland for another title.
Fast forward a year, and
The team is a laughingstock, firmly in the Eastern Conference’s cellar with a 12-46 record. The only thing they have to look forward to in June is the possibility of drafting Zion Williamson, meaning nostalgia for the Lebron-era Cavs has come in earnest for many fans.
However, its not just fans that are nostalgic for these times.
Small forward Cedi Osman recently said in an interview that he will always be nostalgic for the 2017-18 Cavs, saying that they gifted him with some special memories and lessons that will last forever.
Judging by his stats, these comments weren’t just lip service; Osman really seems to have learned from his time with James.
The Turkish international’s made an impressive leap from his rookie to sophomore season, upping his scoring average by nearly 9 points to 12.9 PPG, improving his free throw percentage by a whopping 19% and looking just as good as some of the young pieces his mentor currently plays within Los Angeles.
In his 52 games this season, he has been a rock for the team to lean on, with no moment better illustrating this than his 29-point outburst in a close loss versus the Miami Heat on January 25th.
This stands in stark contrast to the dumpster fire that has surrounded him; the Cavs have cycled through two head coaches and an astounding 27 players this season, which is almost enough to fill two full rosters and ranks near the top of the NBA.
They have also been without two of their leaders (power forwards Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love) for much of the
However, Osman seems to have taken it all in stride, with his stats and larger role on the team being clear evidence of this.
He even took it upon himself to adjust his playing style earlier in the season, lessening his amount of three-pointers in favor of the aggressive, slashing style he is mostly known for.
Not only does this better complement his strengths (Osman is only shooting a pedestrian 32.7% from three-point range), but it has helped other players such as point guard Colin Sexton find their groove as the season goes on. The duo seem to have developed a nice chemistry when on the court together, a good sign for an organization with an eager eye on the future.
It’s not as if these improvements have gone unnoticed, with Osman’s inclusion and performance in this year’s Rising Stars Challenge a testament to that.
During the game, Osman may not have made much of an impact (putting up 2 points, 4 assists
Again, the fact that he was included as the only Cavalier at All-Star Weekend only underlines his improvements and how important he is for the Cavs going forward.
If the Cavaliers organization ever wants to return to the heights it once reached, it needs more players that are selfless, hungry and willing to step up if need be; maybe its a good thing they already have one in Osman.